988 Is The New '911' For Mental Health

988 Is The New '911' For Mental Health

How many times has '911' been the difference between life and death? Now, what if we had an emergency line for mental health crisis? Well soon, we will.

Starting on July 16th of 2022, '988' will be the new mental health emergency line number that will be routed to The National Suicide Prevention Hotline where trained counselors and responders will be available during mental health crises.

While some areas may be currently able to connect to the Lifeline by dialing 988, this dialing code will be available to everyone across the United States starting on July 16, 2022. As part of this new rollout federal grants will also allow call centers to hire more counselors, upgrade infrastructure, and backup centers are getting new funding to build capacity. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, 800-273-8255, will remain in effect alongside 988. 

"Currently, around 4% of people who call the Lifeline are believed to be at immediate risk of or actively attempting suicide, while another 23% have had suicidal thoughts within 24 hours of calling. Of the calls made to the Lifeline, around 80% of crises are resolved without further intervention, such as the police, Eder writes."

This is a huge step in the right direction for the mental health crisis we're experiencing in the US (and globally). The Lifeline is effective because it gives humans who are struggling someone to talk to during their darkest moments. "That can make the difference between someone being alive and not alive," said Madelyn Gould, a psychiatric epidemiologist at Columbia University.

While this is a step in the right direction, we still have a ways to go. This change will require more funding, infrastructure, and operators for the Lifeline. These centers rely on both paid and unpaid counselors and volunteers, but they receive little to no state funding which can lead to calls going unanswered.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please know you are not alone. There are many resources (including The Suicide Prevention Lifeline) to help you through your hardest moments.

Check out our community, resources, and emergency lines that you can use when in mental health crisis.

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